Last week’s Chicago Tribune featured an important article about transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), commonly known as mini-strokes. TIAs, just like strokes, occur when a part of the brain is cut off from its blood supply, causing that part of the brain to stop working. The only difference between a TIA and a stroke is that the symptoms in a TIA are temporary, lasting usually just a few hours. Because most TIAs and strokes are not painful, many patients do not seek medical attention if the symptoms resolve. This is very dangerous. TIAs are frequently early predictors of larger strokes and every TIA or stroke should be treated as a medical emergency. Prompt medical intervention frequently makes the difference between complete recovery or permanent disability or death.

Please read the entire article. The last section lists the most common symptoms associated with TIA. I’ve reproduced that list below. Any of those symptoms should prompt you to go immediately to the nearest emergency department.

  • Sudden numbness, tingling or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, blurring, double vision or dimness.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, staggering, fainting, clumsiness, unsteadiness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden confusion or memory loss.
  • Sudden speech impairments, difficulty understanding words.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause, nausea, vomiting.